Most women who get ovarian cancer are between 40 and 70 years old. Due to a lack of symptoms at the early stage of the disease, many patients are diagnosed at a later stage, impacting the prognosis negatively. The majority of ovarian cancers develop without apparent causal factors other than age. However, a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or endometriosis are some of the risk factors behind ovarian cancer.
The research field in ovarian cancer is rapidly moving forward, and new treatment options are being introduced. New breakthroughs in preclinical and clinical trials call for an active group of physicians, nurses, medical staff, and scientists that quickly adapt to new knowledge. Flexibility and creativity are part of our daily work to adjust and personalize the treatment for the patient.
Ovarian cancer-related symptoms are often not noticed until the cancer has already spread. Common symptoms are ambiguous pain or swollen abdomen, frequent urination, or difficulty eating.
Diagnosing the condition usually starts with a gynecological exam, followed by ultrasounds, MRIs, or CT scans. Our goals at Karolinska are to diagnose and treat each patient based on their unique condition and to provide state-of-the-art care. The European Society of Gynecological Oncology (ESGO) has accredited the patient flow for gynecological cancer as a Center of Excellence (the top level of accreditation). We are the first hospital in Sweden to be given this accreditation.
The primary treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery, followed by chemotherapy. The surgery procedure often includes removing both ovaries and the uterus. However, since most patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer also suffer from the spread of cancer, extensive surgery, including removal of all visible disease, is often essential. The acknowledgement from the European Society of Gynecological Oncology (ESGO) is proof of the excellent work our surgeons and the whole care team provide. High-level surgical expertise and cutting-edge competence in oncological treatment are keys to our successful treatment of ovarian cancer. With a close collaboration with SciLife lab and Karolinska Institutet, we combine preclinical research with active participation in clinical trials, thereby offering our patients best practice in ovarian cancer treatment.
For our patients with rare subtypes of ovarian cancer, we have access to international expertise in this limited area through the European Network for Rare Adult Solid Cancers (EURACAN, of which we have been proud members since 2017. EURACAN is one of the 24 European Reference Networks (ERNs) launched by the European Commission. This network gives access to experts all over Europe; we can review the diagnosis, monitor best practices, and ensure that patients receive up-dated medical care and access to the latest research.